Because it’s never too late for a life reboot

Marcia Heath was suffering from a bad case of Covid burnout when she went to Aruba and stumbled upon the story of Bula Surf Shop. As a non-surfing Baby Boomer, she never expected she’d spend the next two years shadowing a couple of Gen X surfer dudes. Learn about her late-in-life reinvention and find out what to expect when the book launches this spring.


Author Q&A

Where did you get the idea for the book?

I got hooked during a visit with David (my late-in-life stepson) and his wife in Aruba. The travel restrictions from the Covid pandemic had just lifted, and I arrived feeling exhausted, uninspired, and adrift.

The first afternoon, I sat down in the shade of David’s exotic mango trees. He’d just gotten home after a day at Bula, the surf shop he runs with his best friend, Yair. I’d never thought to ask him much about the business, but I was worried after seeing so many shuttered storefronts on the trip from the airport.

David’s answer shocked me. “‘Actually, things are pretty great,”  he said. “Bula’s fine, and Yair and I are still having fun.”

That was the moment my Covid malaise lifted and a burning curiosity took its place. What David told me about Bula was so intriguing, I knew I had to investigate why the shop succeeded so spectacularly when most start-ups fail within a year.

Tell us about your author qualifications.

I’m a zealous wordsmith and storyteller with a background in strategic planning for new ventures.

I thought it would be fun–and useful–to apply the lessons I’d learned about business success to David and Yair’s quest for personal and financial freedom.

I used my research and interviewing skills to dig into their mindset as entrepreneurs. When they started Bula in 2003, they had zero retail experience or financial reserves. Right away I noticed a pattern of breaking the rules. They refused to advertise. Never put their products on sale. And deliberately stayed small when they could have franchised or expanded.

It took me more than two years to piece together the clues to their counterintuitive ways of seeing things, and I drew heavily from the fields of social science, philosophy, neuroscience, and marketing to paint the picture. If you’re a Malcolm Gladwell fan or love the Hidden Brain podcast, this book’s for you. Join the Little Giant book community and get a free sample.

What sets the book apart?

For starters, it’s set in a tropical paradise and has pretty pictures! More seriously, I don’t know of a biographical business book about two brilliant, self-effacing good guys who win in the end. Little Giant  tells their personal story while weaving in observations about work, play, and entrepreneurship. The arc of their adventures–the rookie mistakes, the crazy trials they overcame, and their joyful triumphs–show us we can live cooler lives than we might imagine.

There aren’t formal takeaways like the ones you often find in business books. Little Giant is more like having a friend by your side, pointing out curiosities along the way. I hope readers will look inward and take away their own lessons, but these are a few that come to mind:

One of the most ambitious things in life is to live true to yourself.

– It often takes a series of zigzags and switchbacks to find your true path.

– The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.

– We can’t script success; it’s a constant series of experiments.

No one has all the answers, even the experts.

Did you have any surprising personal revelations?

Sad to say, I saw my blind spots as a writer-journalist. Although I had never surfed a day in my life, I assumed surfing was primarily a sport for hygiene-challenged stoners. Wrong! David and Yair coached me on the many ways their passion for surfing had fueled their entrepreneurial success.

As a Baby Boomer who’d followed a fairly traditional career path, I never expected to learn so many invaluable lessons from a couple of rule-breaking Gen Xers.  I’ve struggled all my life to relax and enjoy the small moments. I can’t say I’m cured, but I am happier than I’ve ever been. This is the single biggest gift that came out of writing a book…a dream that’s dogged me for as long as I can remember.

Why this book now?

I hope Little Giant will give people a hopeful alternative to the post-pandemic hustle culture. Lots of people are experiencing high levels of stress and loneliness, especially men.

This book tells the story of what happened when David and Yair refused to put up with the stress and hustle of their original careers. Together, they grabbed hold of life far better than either imagined by making their friendship a priority. In popular culture, in books and movies, we don’t get to see the inner dynamics of deep, committed friendships like theirs. The book fills that void.

Contact the Author